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Lord Varys

FIRE AND BLOOD Volume 1

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Histories (or fake histories for that matter) are interesting to me on a macro level. Meaning which kingdoms warred with which others, the descriptions and sizes of battles, major geopolitical events, famines, plagues, volcanic eruptions, tribal migrations and the like.

Silmarrilion was great in this respect. Deities at war, with millions of mortals involved in the strife, continents devastated etc.

Personal histories, on the other hand, of who liked to sleep with whom in a particular King's court, who succeeded whom and who betrayed whom to become King's Hand, or Master of Coin blabla, well, I find that mind numbingly boring. Thousands of pages of Targaryen court intrigue. Really now, why couldn't George just have done what the Silmarillion did, which was tell an epic history spanning thousands of years.

Instead, he gives us soap opera level detail from a tiny portion of his world's history. Sure, in a novel that works, because you actually care about the characters. A novel is usually character driven, after all.

But historical figures? Why would you really care enough about any of them to be interested in who they slept with, had children with, loved and hated. I really don't understand the appeal these Targaryen royal histories have to anyone. Particularly when they are written from such a distant perspective as a history book, rather than a novel of a particular person's life and times.

 

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1 hour ago, Werthead said:

I recall Elio and Linda's approach, a lot of their work on the world book was based on GRRM's raw notes which he'd written over the period of writing the novels and other stuff was taken from email exchanges. This was where they themselves had to write the material using GRRM's knowledge. This process sometimes involved them creating material, ideas and names (to bridge one GRRM chunk of information with another), which they'd mark as such and send to George. Sometimes he'd approve their material, sometimes he'd change names to something he liked more and sometimes he'd write back with a completely different linking event. In that process they built up the book.

Only the white-box material ascribed to Gyldayn is 100% GRRM's words (edited or not). Everything else is Elio and Linda's summary of George's notes and material.

It could be that the "Lands Beyond" and other sections with lots of new canon information (like Sarnor and the Grasslands, which I believe George penned through notes when working on Lands of Ice and Fire) was provided by George as large blocks of material which Ran and Linda summarised in a similar manner. That could also explain where the 25,000 words has disappeared, since it was material that George wrote for WoIaF but is not relevant to the F&B Volume I time or geographic period.

According to Ran, GRRM wrote (rewrote) the section about Nymeria and her 10,000 ships. So that section is all George as well. 

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22 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I recall Elio and Linda's approach, a lot of their work on the world book was based on GRRM's raw notes which he'd written over the period of writing the novels and other stuff was taken from email exchanges. This was where they themselves had to write the material using GRRM's knowledge.

This seems to be true for the periods and events they actually did receive a lot of notes over the years - and scanned the published material for any tidbits of information on historical events. Most of the TWoIaF material on the reigns of Daeron I, Baelor the Blessed, Viserys II, Aegon IV, and Daeron II contains information we already knew to various degrees. There were small additions here and there, but nothing substantial. New stuff came in only via the FaB material and the new revelations covering the reigns of Aerys I (Third Blackfyre Rebellion; descendants of Rhaegel and their fates), Maekar (the only significant tidbit being that the Lothstons fell during his reign), and Aegon V & Jaehaerys II.

All the stuff on the past of the Seven Kingdoms prior to the Conquest is also pure George aside from very minor ideas of Elio and Linda's like the whole thing about the relative weakness of the Brackens and the Blackwoods around the time of the Conquest. I think Elio also invented some maester names and the like, but that's just window-dressing, nothing substantial.

The history of the Westerlands, North, etc. were all written by George, too. And in the former case we can see how the editing process changed the text - something was cut, something was changed (the inclusion of Joffrey Lydden, for instance). We also have it on record that George wrote the history of the Iron Islands rather late, causing some of the inconsistencies between that pieces and the other histories of the Seven Kingdoms.

Conceptually, the book seems to have grown out of the idea that Elio and Linda act as collectors of information already available and George only comes in to fill up the blanks, but that's not really what happened. 

I mean, originally the project started as a mere companion book - collecting all the data on what has happened in the novels so far (which then became the App) with the companion book becoming TWoIaF as we know it, and that one essentially developing into this Targaryen history book we get now.

We have a lot of historical information about various Targaryen kings - and some on the ancient times - that did get into the book. But all the new stuff on the Seven Kingdoms is entirely new stuff from George. Texts like the one on Ten Thousand Ships are exclusively George, edited in some manner to fit it in the book space, but those things were not written up or drafted by Elio and Linda.

22 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Only the white-box material ascribed to Gyldayn is 100% GRRM's words (edited or not). Everything else is Elio and Linda's summary of George's notes and material.

That much is clear, and you can actually see stylistic differences between the summary sections from Aegon I-Aegon III broken down from George's long pieces and Ran/Linda's own prose written with the many notes they already had (for instance, they often use 'His Grace' as a way to refer to the king whereas Gyldayn rarely does that, and consequently the summary material doesn't do that at all).

We also only get Gyldayn quotes from the time up until the end of Aegon III's regency. Later on we don't get any Gyldayn sources aside from the sidebar on Summerhall.

22 minutes ago, Werthead said:

It could be that the "Lands Beyond" and other sections with lots of new canon information (like Sarnor and the Grasslands, which I believe George penned through notes when working on Lands of Ice and Fire) was provided by George as large blocks of material which Ran and Linda summarised in a similar manner. That could also explain where the 25,000 words has disappeared, since it was material that George wrote for WoIaF but is not relevant to the F&B Volume I time or geographic period.

From what I think Ran/Linda have told us elsewhere the Lands Beyond stuff was complete George - text, not notes, and came as a pleasant surprise rather late when they were making the book.

Elio has also entertained the notion of them making an unabridged/extended version of TWoIaF, indicating that they also cut some interesting material from the non-Targaryen section of the book (which is evident in the History of the Westerlands section).

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14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Elio has also entertained the notion of them making an unabridged/extended version of TWoIaF, indicating that they also cut some interesting material from the non-Targaryen section of the book (which is evident in the History of the Westerlands section).

I think we are mostly on the same page there. The central point being that George wrote 300,000 words for the world book and most of that material is now Fire & Blood, which is c. 275,000 words (since GRRM's writing formatting is uniform for all his books and AGoT was 1,088 manuscript pages = 298,000 words), so 25,000-odd words (presumably those verbatim passages from WoIaF and a few other sections unrelated to the Targs) is not included.

Edited by Werthead

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1 hour ago, Dead headofMaelysKinslayer said:

Could it be Sunspear?

Not very likely considering that Sunspear was neither burned nor is it a city.

 

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I just... don't care at all. I've got nothing against fake histories or imaginary histories or whatever- I love the Silmarillion, and I love lots of novels written in the form of histories. Not to mention that I love reading real history books. But the short stories he's released in this format have been deeply dry and uninteresting. And since the main series is unfinished, this book (and the next) will have to avoid revealing tons of mysteries, just like the world book (which was itself pretty uninteresting). In the end, we've been waiting almost thirteen years for some cliffhangers to be resolved and seven years for others. I just don't care about the tedium of the history of this dynasty when any time spent on this project could have been time spent on figuring out the main series, or hell, writing a Dunk and Egg short story.

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@Lord Varys

Since Gyldayn's history ends with Aegon V he must have written it during the reigns of Jaehaerys II and Aerys II so there is a small chance he is still alive as of 300 AC.

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30 minutes ago, Caligula_K3 said:

Text

F & B + TWOIAF were never meant to answer in-series mysteries.

Also, would you rather have no new material at all this year?

Finally, for the record, most of F & BV1 was written years ago as GRRM finds "fake history" super easy in comparison to TWOW and D & E.

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It is disappointing that with eight full months left in the year, he has already determined that TWOW will not be coming out this year. That said, it is consistent with what he already told us in July 2017:

* Fire and Blood Vol 1 would be out in late 2018 or early 2019
* he thought we would have a Westeros book from him in 2018
* he wasn't sure whether TWOW or Fire and Blood Vol 1 would be out first

He seems pretty adamant that he would not sit on TWOW if finished, so I think we can dismiss the idea that he is waiting for the show to finish before publishing TWOW. If anything, I think the show pushed the premiere of season 6 off a couple months, and the premiere of season 7 off by a year, in order to give him more time to publish TWOW before the next season.

Disappointed as I am that TWOW will not be out this year, I would be lying if I said I wasn't going to buy/read Fire and Blood Vol 1. I really enjoy reading about the the history of Westeros, including the Targaryen period, and I am looking forward to reading this.

I guess answers don't always make you feel better. We probably wouldn't like the answers we got. But I prefer disappointing answers over speculating. Maybe answers would reveal too much, or maybe he just doesn't want to deal with the added backlash if he is having trouble with one thing or another. I guess it doesn't change when the book is coming out either way. But would be nice to have some idea what is going on.

It is hard to understand how he believed in May 2015 that completing it in October 2015 was achievable, and that in September 2015 he still considered finishing it by the end of the year achievable, or that in January 2017 he believed the book would be released that year, but by July 2017 he couldn't say that Winds would be released before Fire and Blood (which would be published in late 2018 or early 2019).

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25 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Lord Varys

Since Gyldayn's history ends with Aegon V he must have written it during the reigns of Jaehaerys II and Aerys II so there is a small chance he is still alive as of 300 AC.

I don't know. The impression I get (or made up in my mind) is that Gyldayn concluded his history on Aegon V sometime in 259 AC, shortly before Summerhall which he attended. At Summerhall he wrote the damaged pages we read in TWoIaF and died shortly thereafter, possibly from wounds suffered at Summerhall.

An more detailed account on the reigns of Jaehaerys II and Aerys II would likely have to be added by another maester to Gyldayn's history - perhaps by Yandel.

In fact, I've long said it I'd really like a history of the reign of whoever is going to rule after the end of the series - possibly by a Grand Maester Yandel approaching his hundredth year - casting more than a little light on the lives and later careers of all the surviving child characters (and, of course, the adults who also have a considerable amount of decades ahead of them, if they don't die during the series).

Samwell Tarly could an account on the reign of 'Jon Snow' and/or Daenerys Targaryen, Yandel on the reign of their child or grandchild, etc.

This series deserves the kind of closure JRRT gave his characters in the LotR-appendices.

Other idea already raised somewhere else:

Would you like a really complete Targaryen family tree - female branches and bastard branches included - for that book? I think that could make the reading easier.

The same for appendices the way we get in each of the main novels, listing family and court of each king. That would also a lot of names to the Small Council and Kingsguard list ;-). I mean, the average reader will have his issues with that book...

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42 minutes ago, Bael's Bastard said:

If anything, I think the show pushed the premiere of season 6 off a couple months, and the premiere of season 7 off by a year, in order to give him more time to publish TWOW before the next season.

Show will be in 2019 because it includes a lot of battles.

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20 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I don't know. The impression I get (or made up in my mind) is that Gyldayn concluded his history on Aegon V sometime in 259 AC, shortly before Summerhall which he attended. At Summerhall he wrote the damaged pages we read in TWoIaF and died shortly thereafter, possibly from wounds suffered at Summerhall.

An more detailed account on the reigns of Jaehaerys II and Aerys II would likely have to be added by another maester to Gyldayn's history - perhaps by Yandel.

Yeah, I don't get the impression that Gyldayn lived long into the reign of Jaehaerys II, let alone Aerys II. Yandel's own commentary on Gyldayn's ink blotted page about Summerhall indicates it was one of the very last pages of his history written before his death. This would seem an odd assumption on Yandel's part if Gyldayn survived into the reign of Jaehaerys II or Aerys II in any shape to be writing.

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I would have been happier with a new tale of Dunk and Egg. Those books are great. They give us lots of information that is helpful to our understanding of the current story, like the fake histories, but they are so much more enjoyable to read. 

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1 hour ago, The Grey Wolf said:

F & B + TWOIAF were never meant to answer in-series mysteries.

Also, would you rather have no new material at all this year?

Finally, for the record, most of F & BV1 was written years ago as GRRM finds "fake history" super easy in comparison to TWOW and D & E.

This is the problem with worldbooks and history books before series end, though. The same was true for Wheel of Time's worldbook. The in series mysteries are often tied into the history and mythology of the world. So books like these should answer in-series mysteries; but they don't, because that would be a spoiler for the main series, and so you get "histories" that don't address the questions most readers are actually interested in.

Whenever George wrote this material, whether it was two weeks ago or three years ago, it took up huge chunks of time. I know much of it was written a while ago, but I doubt that all of it was, or that there haven't been re-writes, or that editing it for publication hasn't taken up time, as per his note in Not-A-Blog that he's now returning to the Winds of Winter. And I know there are some people who like his fake histories (though judging from reactions on here and reddit, not many), but yes, to my mind, I would rather get no new material if it's uninteresting and takes his time and efforts away from the main series. I get that worldbuilding and history writing are easier for him, which is also why Feast and Dance are so full of random characters expositing about irrelevant episodes from Westerosi history. And I know that George is not my bitch, and that if he wants to, he can spend all his time writing fake histories and editing Wild Cards and working on twenty new shows for HBO. But... it'd be nice if he remembered how to kill his darlings, and to get on with the series.

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@Lord Varys

You asked in the comments section on Not a Blog what the sample illustration was from - actually the file name is "Rhaenys on Meraxes".  Presumably it shows her burning Planky Town, or somewhere else in Dorne.  

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2 hours ago, Caligula_K3 said:

This is the problem with worldbooks and history books before series end, though. The same was true for Wheel of Time's worldbook. The in series mysteries are often tied into the history and mythology of the world. So books like these should answer in-series mysteries; but they don't, because that would be a spoiler for the main series, and so you get "histories" that don't address the questions most readers are actually interested in.

Actually, WoT did do this a bit in the Companion books. It heavily intimated the importance of the Choedan Kal and it was also the first work to explain that the original sealing went wrong because the female Aes Sedai pulled out of the assault on Shayol Ghuld and without saidar the patch was not complete and the Dark One was able to taint saidin and drive the men mad (not in as many words, but it does point out the significance of the Fateful Concord not joining the attack). So it did provide some more information for the resolution of the series and people who'd read it were ahead of the curve.

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1 hour ago, The Dragon Demands said:

@Lord Varys

You asked in the comments section on Not a Blog what the sample illustration was from - actually the file name is "Rhaenys on Meraxes".  Presumably it shows her burning Planky Town, or somewhere else in Dorne.  

Oh, okay, thanks. I could have actually thought about checking the the file name first. Still, the city below doesn't look like anything one would expect Dorne to look like - especially not the Shadow Town or the Planky Town.

Still, one might guess that the Daynes have some sort of small/proper town around their island stronghold of Starfall. They were, after all, once ruling over a Dornish kingdom of their own.

3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

I would have been happier with a new tale of Dunk and Egg. Those books are great. They give us lots of information that is helpful to our understanding of the current story, like the fake histories, but they are so much more enjoyable to read. 

My girlfriend actually agrees with you.

And if you guys ask me 'what I want' I sure as hell would prefer a new Dunk & Egg story over a lot of things. What I really would like, though, is a proper series of novels about the Dance - perhaps even a better version of the Dance, one in which the war lasts for three years, not two (which would have been doable with the established chronology if George had decided to let the war begin in the first month of 129 AC and let it end in the last month of 131 AC) - since this whole dragons vs. dragons scenario was really the most favorite thing in the (more immediate) background material.

Dunk & Egg are great, too, but the Dance is another category entirely. And it is quite clear that this is one of (or the) major contestant for a prequel show. The Dance of the Dragons is ideal for that kind of thing. Anything else would be less spectacular.

But since I really do like this world and its history I really look forward to that one.

And, frankly, reading TWoW is not likely going to be as fun as talking and speculating about it ;-). And it is odd how different it was (for me) with ADwD in comparison to TWoW. AFfC left us with half a novel and, largely, at a complete loss what the point of the story was. ADwD corrected all that. Now we can paint a pretty good picture of some future story lines - something we could really not do with only AFfC.

7 hours ago, Werthead said:

I think we are mostly on the same page there. The central point being that George wrote 300,000 words for the world book and most of that material is now Fire & Blood, which is c. 275,000 words (since GRRM's writing formatting is uniform for all his books and AGoT was 1,088 manuscript pages = 298,000 words), so 25,000-odd words (presumably those verbatim passages from WoIaF and a few other sections unrelated to the Targs) is not included.

Well, I really didn't keep track on the word count. That's why I lost track, obviously ;-).

4 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Yeah, I don't get the impression that Gyldayn lived long into the reign of Jaehaerys II, let alone Aerys II. Yandel's own commentary on Gyldayn's ink blotted page about Summerhall indicates it was one of the very last pages of his history written before his death. This would seem an odd assumption on Yandel's part if Gyldayn survived into the reign of Jaehaerys II or Aerys II in any shape to be writing.

I wonder whether it is necessary to get a detailed history on the last two Targaryen kings, anyway. Sure, it would be good and proper for the sake of completeness and all, but I actually think Yandel's history of the reign of Aerys II is pretty thorough. One really wants to know where the hell the Queen Dowager Shaera Targaryen disappeared to, but aside from that I was actually very happy with that one.

More details are always welcome, of course. And a thorough and tantalizing account on the War of the Ninepenny Kings and Jaehaerys II thoughts on Tywin's dealings with the Reynes and Tarbecks would also be pretty welcome. One can imagine a rather atmospheric scene there, with the king questioning Ser Tywin rather sternly about his actions (especially if it turned out that Tywin had been actually a royal ward of Aegon V's for a time, effectively making some sort of 'foster brother to both Jaehaerys II and Aerys II) while the Prince of Dragonstone stood up in defense of his best friend. Scenes like that could really broaden the scope and give the characters a lot of additional depth.

Which is really what TWoIaF did with many of the characters we actually meet in the series - or hear a lot about. Tytos, Tywin, Joanna, Aerys II, Rhaella, Steffon Baratheon, and Rhaegar really profited from that book.

And even people not caring all that much about the many kings, etc. should take the time and effort to read the sections dealing with those characters because some of that is clearly important for the plot of the novels.

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